Mary-Alice (Jolie Ledford) and her mother (Sierra Macks) walk up to a rather large, creepy looking house in the middle of the night. The young girl protests that she was told they were going to get a puppy, not come to some old house. Her mother informs Mary-Alice that this is necessary, to fix her pretty smile.
Then the door to the mansion opens, and Mrs. Murnau (Susan Louise O’Connor) beckons Mary-Alice in, though her mom must wait outside. Mrs. Murnau leads the child up to the winding stairs, to a room where a dentist chair lies in wait. Dr. Blackeberg (Thomas Cokenias) enters and shackles Mary-Alice’s hands and feet to the chair. Why does a little girl visit a dentist at midnight? More importantly, why does she need to be restrained to do so?
“Why does a little girl visit a dentist at midnight? More importantly, why does she need to be restrained to do so?”
Written and directed by Colin Bishopp, Snaggletooth fills the entirety of its 8-minute runtime with a deep, uneasy sense of dread. The opening shot of the very Addams-style house is ominous, as are the tracking shots inside the creepy abode. This maximizing of atmosphere ensures that the audience becomes heavily invested in figuring out what is happening.
Lighthearted might not be the exact right term, but there is a sense of playfulness and fun that stems from the snappy dialogue. Mary-Alice asks the dentist if he “…shackles all the children…” who come to see him? Dr. Blackeberg fires back that he only restrains the kids who “…visit at midnight.” Bishopp is also intelligent enough to never spell things out for his audience, so who, or what, these people are is never explained. Which adds nicely to the world-building, as there seems to be a living, breathing society just beyond the camera’s view.
“…here seems to be a living, breathing society just beyond the camera’s view.”
Ledford is excellent as Mary-Alice. She combines the right amount of creeping intensity and sarcastic wit for one fun if slightly scary protagonist. Macks, as her mother, moves in a weird, unnatural way, which fits right at home with the tone of the film. As the dentist and assistant, Cokenias and O’Connor both do an excellent job.
With his writing and directing debut, Colin Bishopp has crafted a beautiful looking, fun, eerie experience. Snaggletooth hits all the right notes, and I hope to see further adventures in its horror-esque world.
Snaggletooth (2019) Directed by Colin Bishopp. Written by Colin Bishopp. Starring Jolie Ledford, Sierra Macks, Susan Louise O’Connor, Thomas Cokenias.
10 out of 10 Full Moons